My Mommy Must-Haves…
I have a handful of pregnant friends right now, and as a new mom with a fresh memory for this stuff, some have asked my advice on favorite products, brands, and ways of doing baby-related tasks. I know how much some of these recommendations from others have helped me while trying to ‘figure it all out,’ so I am happy to pass along my two cents on some of my favorite things for baby if it can help even one mom with one dilemma. Look, I’m only 2 months into this whole parenting thing, and am certainly no expert. But I AM a hard-to-please shopper, researcher and consumer of all things baby. I am scrupulous and skeptical when it comes to the quality, effectiveness and safety of products I rely on to help me raise my baby. My top picks come from a variety of retailers and price-points, and many were either hand-made or handed down to me, or can easily be found used through Craigslist, baby consignment stores, etc… Without further ado, here are the top ten things that have won me over, made my life easier, my baby happier, and I simply cringe at the thought of having to parent without:
1. A WATERPROOF changing table pad!
Use it by itself or on top of a fabric (read: NOT waterproof) changing pad, on-the-go or at home – just USE IT!! J Here’s a link to the pad I use, on top of my fabric pad (the best of both worlds: comfort plus function).
Messes are easily wiped clean from the slick pad without reaching the fabric one underneath, I have only had to wash/change out the fabric one ONCE. It was a fluke that I came up with this arrangement, but I would NEVER DO IT ANY OTHER WAY!! Especially if you are having a boy, they WILL pee all over, and you WILL save yourself so much time and money by changing the baby on a waterproof pad. Here is a picture of my set-up:
The changing table and fabric cover underneath are from Land of Nod.
2. BOB Stroller
Of course there are exceptions, but Aaron and I tend to find that you get what you pay for. The BOB is one of the more expensive strollers out there, but I believe it’s because it is one of the most durable, versatile, highest quality and longest lasting options ever to grace the stroller market. I haven’t sampled anything else quite like it and most of my friends and family members with babies swear by it (they make a great double stroller, too!). That being said, because they are so popular, they are also widely available used, through friends and family, consignment stores, Craigslist, etc…. I have also often seen them on sale at stores like REI and Babies-R-Us. Big rubber wheels and awesome shock-absorbency makes anything from gravel trails to sidewalk curbs a smooth ride. With the BOB exploring Bainbridge Island:
I was super confused about the whole pumping thing for the longest time. As a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t understand WHY I would have to pump, and certainly didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a system I may not use. Basically if you exclusively breastfeed and ever want or need to be away from your baby for more than 2-3 hours (date night, business meeting, a job!), and need someone other than you to feed your baby, pumping is a necessity and this is a great, user-friendly system to get the job done.
4. Halo SleepSack Swaddle
I love this system. You buy the monitor unit and it comes with one camera, but you can buy up to three additional cameras to monitor several areas of your house. We have three cameras set up: one in the nursery over baby’s big crib (where he currently naps), one in our bedroom over his co-sleeper/mini crib (where he currently sleeps at night) and one in our basement over his pack-and-play (so if he is there and we go upstairs, we can monitor). I love this monitor system, for it’s multi-camera capabilities, large color screen, night vision (can clearly see child even if room is pitch dark), and temperature reading (it tells you the temp of each camera location, so you can be aware of overheating concerns and check on child accordingly – this has been such a helpful feature during Seattle’s recent heat streak!!)
6. Burp cloths, burp clothes, and more burp cloths. As for my favorites, it’s a tie between these from Aden and Anais (the curved shape sits nicely over the shoulder and the material gets even softer with washing and wear), and these homemade ones from my mother-in-law and friend Brooke:
Another great and inexpensive option is to buy a pack of basic white cloth diapers, they make a good (if somewhat thin) burp cloth. We have a pack of 12 of these, plus about a dozen ‘cuter’ burp cloths. We can easily go through have a dozen in a day (our boy has no shortage of spit up!), so having plenty of back stock during laundry is a must.
7. A bouncy seat:
If you ever want to eat dinner while baby’s awake, the bouncy seat is your best friend. This one from Fisher Price does the trick. Hand on the fork, foot bouncing the baby.
We used it so often, and were constantly lugging it from room to room and floor to floor, that we eventually bought a second one. Seriously. When it makes the difference between sleep and no sleep for your entire family, you WILL buy not one but TWO huge obtrusive baby contraptions for your formerly neat, adult home. That’s how much of a life-saver it was those first few weeks. We used it everywhere, all the time. Our baby loved the stimulation of the snug fit and swaying motion.
9. Turtlemeter bath thermometer. It’s cute, completely waterproof, and takes the guesswork out of making sure baby’s bath water is neither too hot nor too cold. Need I say more?
10. Join a PEPS group! Okay, so this one’s a service, not a product, but I had to squeeze it into my must-have list. This is a Seattle-based organization that links new parents with others in their neighborhood to meet once a week for 12 weeks to discuss, celebrate and commiserate about the highs and lows of learning the parenting ropes. It’s a great way to meet new parent and baby friends, trade ideas, and feel less alone as you navigate this new world.
A few honorable mentions:
*I also adore my Storksak diaper bag. It has tons of inner and outer compartments to keep me organized, easily attaches to the BOB stroller with clips, expands to hold way more than you’d think, and looks cute when doubling as a purse (doesn’t scream “diaper bag!”):
I got mine at Village Maternity in Seattle. Beautiful fabric on the outside, waterproof on the inside – I keep this in my diaper bag and toss in soiled clothing when on-the-go wardrobe changes become necessary! Sold in two sizes, this is the small.
*Weather-resistant stroller blankets from Rain or Shine Kids:
RoSK blankets are awesome – made to keep baby warm, dry, and protected from too much rain, wind or sun. They tie onto any stroller or carrier with stylish little ribbons, come in lots of great color combos and graphic prints, and are designed by a Seattle mom (who happens to be a former co-worker of mine!)
There you have it. My picks for the products that have made my parenting experience thus far more fun and functional. I’d love to hear yours!